(E)‐ducation in St. Lucia: Myth or reality?

Date01 February 2010
Publication Date01 February 2010
AuthorGale T.C. Rigobert
SubjectPublic policy & environmental management
Copyright © 2010 WASD
World Journal of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2010
(E)-ducation in St. Lucia:
Myth or rEaLity?
Gale T.C. Rigobert*
The University of the West Indies (UWI ), Trinidad and Tobago
Abstract: There is an ongoing debate on the economic viability of Small Island
Developing States (SIDS) in the emerging e-economy. The centrality of ICTs in
the current development discourse, suggests that countries have little choice but to
embrace ICTs as a pivotal element in their development strategy. As St. Lucia seeks
to diversify its economy away from agriculture to a service-based economy, it has
become necessary to equip the next generation with the requisite e-skills to help
propel that country into the e-age. The paper interrogates the socio-economic impli-
cations of the relatively slow uptake of ICTs in secondary schools on the island.
Keywords: ICTs; information communications technologies; Caribbean;
St. Lucia; (e)-ducation; development; SIDS; small island developing states.
The post-independence euphoria, in
St. Lucia, as elsewhere in the third world,
was soon tempered by the realisation that
political autonomy and economic growth
were not automatic. As a small developing
island-state, St. Lucia struggled with what was
an appropriate model for its development.
Its insertion into the International Division
of Labour (IDL) as a producer of primary
commodities to serve the ‘needs’ of the
mother country lingered into independence,
and indeed the post independence era.
Historically, St. Lucia has relied heavily
on the production of primary commodi-
ties (tobacco, followed by sugar and more
recently bananas) as the mainstay of its
economy. The erosion of preferential trade
arrangements under the various Lomé
agreements has had an adverse effect on
the St. Lucian economy: the liberalisation
of trade has exacerbated sliding commodity
prices on the international market; declin-
ing terms of trade and the drastic drop in the
volume of production has seen the income
generated by that sector halved over the last
5–10 years. Economic diversification, there-
fore, has become critical for survival.
The government has sought to stem the
negative economic impact of liberalisation
by seeking alternative economic activities to
generate the much-needed foreign exchange.
The initial response of the St. Lucian
government has been to expand the tourism
and financial sectors, with the hope that
these sectors would help bridge the finan-
cial shortfall. But tourism too, brings with
it its fair share of challenges. Given the ver-
ticalisation of the global industry, increas-
ingly national governments are left with
shrinking shares of the profit generated.
* Institute of International Relations (IIR), The University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine, Trinidad and
Tobago; e-mail: gale.rigobert@sta.uwi.edu

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